PETALING JAYA: National top women’s pair Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean were supposed to make their second All-England appearance from March 17-21.
But the world No. 10 had no qualms about forgoing the opportunity, knowing they have a more important task at hand – sealing their qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
Mei Kuan-Meng Yean were the third senior pair to have withdrawn from the world’s oldest tournament after men’s doubles teammates Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Nur Izzuddin Rumsani-Goh Sze Fei.
Mei Kuan-Meng Yean’s names were among many names taken out when the final entry list was finalised and the draw was made on Tuesday.
They include Taiwanese stars like world No. 4 men’s singles Chou Tien-chen, No. 1 women’s singles Tai Tzu-ying and No. 3 men’s doubles Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin, and Thailand’s world No. 2 mixed doubles Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai.
When asked, Mei Kuan said they opted to skip the All-England due to the Covid-19 risks.
“It wasn’t a last-minute decision. We’re supposed to play only in the Swiss and German Opens (which was subsequently cancelled) and then head home to train. The All-England wasn’t in the plan because it doesn’t offer Olympic ranking points, ” said Mei Kuan.
“Many would argue that we have a good chance of picking up some world ranking points and prize money in the absence of many top players.
“But our priority is the Olympics and we’re not prepared to take any chances that could jeopardise our preparations for the Tokyo Games.
“Travelling to the UK is just too big of a risk at the moment as the number of cases there is still high. It’s just not worth it. That’s probably the main reason why other top countries including China skipped Europe.”
Despite being one of the country’s top pairs in recent years, Mei Kuan-Meng Yean made their All-England debut in 2020 but could only reach the last 16.
“We didn’t get our first taste of All-England action until last year due to several circumstances.”
Meng Yean was injured in 2018 and in 2019, the BAM had imposed a limit of two back-to-back tournaments, so we flew home after the Spain Masters and German Open, ” explained Mei Kuan.
“As a shuttler, we yearn to play on the big stage such as the All-England. But things are different now.”
Mei Kuan-Meng Yean are on course to become one of the 16 pairs to qualify for the Olympics as they sit No. 10 in the Race to Tokyo rankings.
But Mei Kuan is taking nothing for granted.
“We have to make our trip to Switzerland count. We have no choice but to try to improve our position further as we need to avoid being overtaken by the pairs below us, ” she said.
“Although 16 pairs will qualify, we can’t afford to drop below No. 13 because the last three spots are allotted for pairs from Oceania, Pan-America and Africa.”
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on blossoming combination Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah in the women’s doubles challenge a the All-England.
However, they are up against world No. 8 Rawinda Prajongjai-Jongkolphan Kittitharakul in the first round.